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In care/Care leavers

Getting support for higher education (university)

Universities are committed to providing support for those leaving care who want to go on to higher education. In addition to a comprehensive financial support package, universities provide academic and social support to help students settle in, focus on their studies and graduate successfully.

What do we mean by care leaver?

The legal definition of care leaver is a person who has been in care for 13 weeks since they were 14 and at some point when they were 16 or 17 years old. Some universities might offer support to students who have 'experience of care' but are not covered by this definition. Check what help you may be eligible for at Propel.

Support available for care leavers

Universities have specific things in place to support care leavers. 

Download: Details about the contacts for care leavers in universities in the South West

Support is available at every stage of your university experience to ease the burden on you so you can concentrate on your studies. This includes help before, during and after you are a student. To receive this support you need to declare on your UCAS application form that you have been in care. This means that everything can be in place to support you when you start your course.

In addition to the support package offered by your Local Authority, universities may offer:

Help with your application to university

If you would like support with the application process, experienced university staff can help you complete your UCAS form. In some cases, an interview with the department offering the course will be required. If you have to attend an interview, the university might be able to arrange for a member of staff to help you prepare.

Care Leaver support meetings

After you are offered a place at your chosen university, or during the first few weeks of your course, you may be offered the opportunity to attend a support meeting to help you with the transition to university life. During this meeting you will be able to discuss your personal support needs as well as meet other care leavers at the university.

Support while studying

While you are a student at university, a full range of support will be available to help you make the most of your studies and achieve your full potential. Types of support could include a counselling service, the university chaplaincy, disability support, computing and library facilities, and a learning-support service to help with all aspects of your study-skills needs. In preparing you for the world of work following graduation, university careers and employability services provide a wide range of workshops and events to help you develop and achieve your career goals.

Money management and budgeting

As a student you are likely to receive some relatively large sums of money in one go and in order to survive university life you'll need to manage them carefully as they have to last you through each term. This may be the first time you have had to handle such large amounts of money and to help you do this successfully most universities have dedicated staff on hand to provide advice and guidance on budgeting and making sensible choices.

All-year-round accommodation

Most universities offer a 40-week academic-year contract for university-owned accommodation to all care-leaver students. In addition to this, most universities are also able to offer 12 weeks of summer accommodation to allow for 365-day accommodation for care leavers. All offers are subject to accommodation applications being received by the accommodation deadline specific to each individual institution. For those care leavers who name an institution as their insurance choice or students coming through the clearing system, accommodation departments will try to place students in appropriate university accommodation. If this is not possible, support and advice will be given to secure the most appropriate private-sector accommodation.

Named university contacts

If you have any issues or concerns which you may be facing prior to arriving at your chosen university and during your time as a student, most universities have a designated member of staff who is the named contact for care leavers. The designated contact is there to help with all aspects of your university life. Your named contact will treat any questions you have confidentially and will only refer to other departments or agencies internally and externally with your permission. lists all the higher-education institutions in the UK and the services they offer care leavers. 

Support into employment or further study after higher education

University careers and employability teams know and understand how important finding a job can be for all students and recognise the additional pressures that those coming from care may experience. Universities aim to support all students to find relevant work experience through part-time jobs, volunteering, short-term placements and work shadowing. They also provide information, advice and guidance with career planning and aim to support all students with their employability in order to ease the progression into graduate employment or further study.

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